You spend year collecting the belongings that make your house or condo a home. That’s why you insure valuables against theft and damage as part of your homeowner’s insurance policy. Let’s walk through what you need to do to ensure your contents coverage is adequate and any claims you make are successful.
First, take an inventory of your belongings. Not only will having this information help expedite your claims, it will make it easier to determine how much coverage you need in the first place. How you choose to record your home inventory is up to you: write it down on paper, enter it into a spreadsheet or upload it into one of the many online tools or apps available for this purpose (check your insurer’s website – they make offer one).
Take stock of your home’s inventory room by room (checklists are all over the internet – again check your insurer’s website); consider further dividing things into sub-categories like Furniture, Electronics, Clothing, and Jewelry. Small items can be grouped together (e.g. 30 shirts, 50 books). Note details like brand; model and serial numbers; and purchase price, date and location. Also gather together supporting documentation such as receipts, credit card statements, warranties and appraisals.
Augment your list with photos or videos – having visual evidence goes a long way toward substantiating your claims as to your home’s contents at the time you arranged for coverage and what new items you’ve added. You can do a video walk-through of your home – be sure all doors are open – with running commentary describing your stuff with the sort of details mentioned above.
Recognize that insurance companies typically offer limited coverage for certain categories of personal property like jewelry and artwork. If you have any particular valuable belongings – a wedding ring, fur coat or rare coin collection for example – ask your insurance agent about arranging additional coverage for them. And be especially thorough in documenting your ownership of such items!
Once you’ve completed your inventory, gathered your receipts, and taken your photos or videos, you’ll want to take steps to safe-guard this documentation, too, against damage or loss. Make a copy (or copies) to be safely stored outside your home. Where? At a trusted friend or relative’s home, your workplace, a bank safe-deposit box, or even with your insurer. That’s one advantage of online home-inventory tools and apps – they store your information (images included) where it can be accessed whenever and wherever you like.
Lastly, don’t forget to update your home-inventory documentation whenever items of some value are brought into or leave your home. To make sure you’re not inadequately insured, or paying for more insurance than you need, review your coverage with your insurer on a regular basis. Of course, a perfect time to review your coverage is when you move to a new home.